Daily Prompt: Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

Exploration is one of the keys to self awareness and personal growth. Many different aspects of life can be explored, all leading to the same discovery: happiness.

Work

Regardless of age, you should be exploring every avenue available. Take different jobs, work for different companies, move laterally or up, and volunteer some time. Find out what you enjoy doing, then kick ass at it. For some, they figure it out early, and for others it takes years. Either way, don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.

Social Life

Meet new people everyday. Engage in a friendly conversation with a stranger. It could be in line at the grocery store, or while standing on a street corner waiting for your turn to cross the street.  You don’t have to make a new best friend, but a simple conversation can teach you a lot about yourself. You never know who you might meet, and it’s great practice for networking.

Travel

Even though the entire planet has been mapped out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t explore your city, country, or any other place. New destinations come with new experiences, new people, new architecture, and new food, which are some of the building blocks of personal growth.

Ultimately exploration is about finding yourself. You’ll never know what you might like, if you don’t try it.

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Know Your Guide

When visiting a new province, state, country, or an unfamiliar body of water it is best to head out with a guide, at least for your first trip. Most beginners or non-anglers would believe that any guide service in a particular body of water will get you on some fish, maybe even that trophy you’ve been looking for. But any avid angler that has chartered a guide, especially a one that isn’t great, will tell you to do your research.

Recently, I took a trip to Fort Myers, Florida to visit my parents who have a small condo on a golf course. The bass fishing in the ponds around the course is good, but I had grown a little tired of fishing the same old spots. My brother-in-law, who also happened to be there at the same time, suggested that we go goliath grouper fishing. We had seen the videos online, which were absolutely insane, and decided without doing research on the guide or experiences had by others, to book a trip. He was charging $800USD for a 4-hour trip. I thought the price was a little steep, but he was supposedly the best.

We showed up to the marina about 15 minutes early and proceeded to wait. The guide showed up 20 minutes late, and made some excuses for his tardiness. It wasn’t a big deal to us as long as he gave us back the time on the end of the trip. However, to our disappointment, the story got worse.

He took us to the bridge pilings where the GG’s shelter themselves from the sun. He instructed me to grab a jack – a small but powerful fish – out of the bait well so that he could hook it up. I assumed, as I began to open the lid, that there would be at least a dozen or so in order for us to have enough bait to last the entire trip. Man was I wrong. He had one. Yes, only one baitfish for us to use on these monster fish. I grabbed the jack by the tail, pulled it out of the water and handed it to the guide. He hooked it up, then handed me the rod. He then verbally instructed me on how to lower the fish into the right area, and right away I got a bite. This is when things started to go really sour. Myself being a bass angler felt the bite and tried to set the hook. The GG ripped the jack from the hooks and I was left with no bait. The guide decided that now was the time to tell me that I was supposed to reel down on the fish, which was no help now that we were out of bait. He also had the audacity to ask if I had ever seen his videos on YouTube, hinting that I was supposed to learn everything about GG fishing from some low budget videos of him basically screaming like a banshee.

With no bait left, much to our dismay, we were now paying to do his job, which is preparing for a fishing trip. So he threw out a large bait net and dragged in a bunch of small bait fish, dumped them in the bait well and started up the motor so that we could head over to another area in order to catch more jacks to use as GG bait. Three hours later, we had two jacks in the boat and less than a half hour left in the trip. With the ride back, which he counted as time on the water, we were done for the day.

I have since been informed that this is not a unique experience, which did very little to calm me. I was angry because I had overpaid for jack and snook fishing which basically set up the guide with bait for his next trip, was yelled at for not being able to read his mind, and all the while had to listen to delusional stories of greatness by a guy who had just ripped us off.

I can’t stress enough, that should you use a guide service, do your research before you book anything. There are review websites and social media outlets that are littered with customer experiences. You could even call around the area to the marinas or bait shops, which usually know a number of guides. While they may not throw one of their own under the bus, they can steer you in the right direction.

Fishing you the best of luck!

The Big J is for Jerome

The caravan of tourist driven rental vehicles snaked slowly up the mountainside toward what was once known as the “Wickedest town in the west”. In the distance, rocks formed a large snow-white letter J which contrasted with the foliage and red rock of the Cleopatra hillside as it overlooked the tiny ghost town. I ran my sandpaper tongue over my dry, cracked lips as we passed an old sign that read, “Welcome to Jerome, Arizona”. The anticipation of fulfilling another bucket list item grew stronger with every passing mile. The intense heat of the Arizona desert only served to increase my anxiety. Our twelve-passenger van proved almost too large for the narrow, winding streets of this abandoned copper mining town. As I laid my eyes on my true destination, a pinch on my arm was necessary to confirm my being conscious.

I hopped down from the oversized vehicle, like a child on his first field trip, full of excitement and anticipation. Four of my five senses were abandoned leaving me to survive solely on tunnel vision. I crossed the single lane meant for two-way traffic in a zombie like state. The cavalcade of tourists and local hippies roaming aimlessly throughout the art shops and the spillover of bikers from the neighbouring town of Cottonwood were merely a blur. Being drawn in closer as if caught in a tractor beam, an invisible wall slammed me to a stop but a few feet from the door.

Breathing deeply, I inched forward, for there was no turning back. I had finally arrived at Caduceus Cellars, an intimate wine tasting room owned and operated by a lifelong idol, Maynard James Keenan. Having been a fan of his bands, art, and philosophies on life, I felt a tangible connection to him and his work.

Floating through the winery, my senses were restored allowing the scent of wine and weathered oak barrels, along with the familiar sound of Maynard’s music to comfort me in this surreal experience. Awaiting the arrival of my group, I squeezed past the other patrons, scanning the inventory of wine, clothing and other memorabilia, which lined walls and covered tabletops.

Trickling through the door one by one, our group was boisterously greeted by an unrefined yet welcoming tattooed woman. She stood no higher than five feet with a larger-than-life personality. She promptly took our order returning only moments later with glasses and our first tastings.

I closed my eyes as I sipped away, allowing the fruit and tannins to fill my mouth and nostrils. For the first time I understood the effort involved in the arduous process of working the land, as well as the years of back breaking labour and mental exhaustion before a single harvest was made possible. Most overwhelmingly I heard the Arizona desert call out in approval of my presence.

Jerome, Arizona holds a permanent reservation in my heart and mind, however any visitor will feel an undeniable spiritual connection to this hidden gem.